Published by Jerz on 7/31/2014
Imagine coming to work everyday and your boss who even though was a very nice guy expected you to produce miracle results with co-workers who were goof offs or just not very good at THEIR jobs. Imagine every weekly team meeting being the guy talked about the most as the reason your team wasn’t meeting it’s goals. At some point, this gets very old. In some cases, we all can relate to this. Chicago Bears Quarterback Jay Cutler can most definitely relate to this.
Being a fan of the Chicago Bears for a very long time, I’ve seen the merry go round at Quarterback spin round and round, season after season. After so many spins, it becomes nauseating. In 2009 when a certain strong armed, 26 year old Quarterback (fresh off a Pro Bowl season) was acquired, expectations for a team just 3 years removed from a Super Bowl appearance themselves shot into orbit. 5 years later, one playoff win and a fired head coach later, here we are. The above mentioned Quarterback (Jay Cutler) has endured more criticism than “Sexy Rexy” (Rex Grossman) and has been ripped for everything from his suspect decision making (league leading 26 INTs in 09′) and risk taking to his facial expressions and body language on the sideline to his aloof demeanor in post game press conferences and interviews. Are we asking ourselves WHY the young man from Santa Claus, Ind. is exhibiting this behavior? I mean it has to be pretty tough to be expected to make gourmet chicken salad out of chicken crap every season (an offensive line that looked like subway turnstiles, pass catchers you don’t trust to come down with the ball for you if they DO run the correct route and offensive coordinators that at times couldn’t even get the call in before the play clock expired???). Ladies and Gents, up until last season, this was Jay Cutler’s professional life. I mean sure, Cutler isn’t totally absolved of criticism for his shortcomings as a Pro passer. We’ve seen him try to drill a pass through two defenders, hold the ball too long leading to sacks (which also led to fumbles), throwing off his back foot relying on his extraordinary arm strength too much. All of these things are classic evidence of a guy trying to do more than he should have to because his components aren’t doing THEIR jobs. Imagine if YOU were under constant duress almost immediately after the ball was snapped or your receivers don’t go up and win 1 on 1 battles for the football or your offensive coordinators (which had their own “merry go round” going) were consistently out coached by the opposition. How “cheery” would you be on the sidelines? How much smiling and hi-fiving would YOU be doing? How many stupid questions would you be ready to happily answer from reporters after games? To be honest, if you were smiling, jovial and happy with all this chaos happening around you. I’d think your elevator didn’t go all the way to the top.
Now let’s get to the NFC Championship Game of 2010 where some meatballs starting calling him Jay “Quitler” after his sprained MCL forced him out of action against hated rival Green Bay. This makes perfect sense doesn’t it? Take a beating in your 1st two years with the team only to “quit” one game away from the Super Bowl. Brilliant. I’m not going to act like I didn’t have my initial questions as I was watching the game and not much information was given during it and all we saw was Cutler on a stationary bike. One thing I didn’t question was Cutler’s toughness or his heart. His sideline demeanor may have painted a picture of him as a guy that didn’t care much and I’ve had people from the Nashville area that have shared stories of Cutler and his “bratty” ways as an undergrad so he didn’t have many positive “character references” up to this point. Add to that the way some felt about him “forcing his way out” of Denver and you can see why this guy wasn’t the most popular QB in the game. Lots of perception to overcome right? It gets better…
After leading the league in interceptions in 2009 (with 26), Cutler shaved that number by 10 the following year (in 15 games) to 7 the year after that (in 10 games) to 14 in 2012 (in 15 games). The funny thing is he’s STILL regarded as this INT machine for some reason? Some people not only refuse to let go of the past but won’t give credit for what’s happening right in front of their eyes as well. The trend in the above mentioned stats is games were starting to be missed (after not missing a game in his 3 years as a starter in Denver). With the less than stellar to flat out terrible pass protection he’s had to endure during this stretch, it’s a miracle he wasn’t out longer. After some much needed “housecleaning”, after 2012, Cutler was now being put in position to excel. A new mind was put in charge to correct an offense that was at the bottom of the league in most categories. The offensive line was totally reconstructed with a mix of 2 new veterans and 2 rookie draft picks to add to the 1 holdover from the year before. The pass catchers were now boasting legit size and playmakers he could trust to go up and get those 1 on 1 balls in situations you expect your pass catchers to win. Things were turning around for the much maligned signal caller.
2013 was full of ups and downs for Cutler and the Bears. Cutler wasn’t available for all 16 games (for the 4th consecutive season) and was in limbo about his future with the team amidst all it’s changes. You could notice a change in Cutler’s play and he was on pace to have maybe his best season as a Pro until groin and ankle injuries derailed his campaign. You saw a guy trusting what he saw more making better decisions with the football and getting it out of his hands quicker. He checked the ball down if nothing was there and didn’t try to force feed longtime buddy Brandon Marshall if he was well covered. He was responding well to the coaching staff and became more of a leader on and off the field often meeting with his offensive unit after practices to learn the new offense and make sure everyone was on the same page. He worked well with the backup QB that played such stellar ball in his replacement and had some fans screaming to run Cutler out of town. Cutler was showing a maturity that comes as you enter your 30s, start a family and are at peace with who you are and your situation around you personally and professionally. It was a “perfect storm” that leads us to the 2014 season. Financial security and a long term contract are no longer a concern for the rifle armed QB as $126 million over 7 years took care of that. Now it’s time for Cutler to take care of the organization that has FINALLY “taken care” of him. He has absolutely NO excuse not to be one of the top producers at his position. His main responsibility will be to keep himself physically available for every game this team plays so they’ll be in the best position to win. The defense that was an all-time franchise worst against the run has been injected with veteran and young talent and added veteran coaches to get the most out of the scheme and it’s personnel. All the pieces are now in place it’s just a shame it took the Bears 5 seasons to figure it out… Thank you for checking this out and get at me on Twitter @nicethegr34t if you have a reply.
I get a kick out of most of the highlights in this video as Cutler had to rely on the likes of Devin Hester, Johnny Knox and Kellen Davis (to name a few) to make plays for him. Enjoy